The first Russian privatization program represented the largest and fastest property reform ever undertaken in the modem world. This article, however, is not concerned with the quantity and speed of Russia's privatization program, but rather with the kind of privatization that occurred in the first round. Drawing on theories of path dependency, this article argues that the institutional legacy regarding property rights in the Soviet era influenced the course of privatization in post-Soviet Russia. Using a principal-agent model to illuminate the distribution of property rights in the Soviet era, this article first delineates the bundle of property rights that enterprise directors assumed during the Soviet period. The article then traces how these directors sought to protect their property rights during the Russian government's privatization program. To test this explanation, the article then analyses some empirical data from the first round of privatization, first in a discussion of the quantitative results of Russia's first privatization program, and second in a qualitative comparison of four case studies of privatization.

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